• Daniel Hooper

What is going to happen to overseas migration post Coronavirus?

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What is going to happen to overseas migration post Coronavirus?

Chart 1 tells me that net overseas migration has lifted substantially when compared to a generation ago.

But in recent times it has slowed down.

Like interstate migration, net overseas migration is also a cyclical occurrence.

Table 1 tells me the New South Wales and Victoria – read Sydney and Melbourne – receive the lion’s share of net overseas migration to Australia.

Table 2 outlines the top 25 local authority areas across Australia ranked by total net overseas migration during fiscal 2019.

Most of these areas are in either Sydney or Melbourne and most occupy inner-city or middle-ring locations.

In many instances, net overseas migration is the only reason these areas are experiencing an increasing headcount.

My comments

There has been considerable debate in recent weeks if overseas migration will fall as a result of the coronavirus.

I think that in the short term – over the next 12 to 24 months – that is very likely, if for no other reasons than limitations on international travel and overseas student intakes.

But once these things become unrestrained – and they will – it is reasonable to accept that the recent high levels of overseas migration will resume.

In fact, I will go further and say that the net levels of overseas migration to Australia are very likely to rise, and maybe substantially, over the decades to come.


Some statistics first.

The median age of a recent overseas migrant to Australia is 26 years old, whilst that number for an Australian citizen is just under 40.

More telling is that 61% of overseas arrivals to Australia are currently aged between 18 and 34 years, whilst this segment holds just 27% of the overall Australian population.

In short, Australia will need their tax dollars – and most likely lower wage costs too – in order to pay for, and recover from, our current largesse.

What about Interstate movements

Here’s one chart and two tables to explain this.

Chart 1 tells me that population movements between states and territories was on a rapid ascent before COVID-19. 

The chart also shows that interstate population movements are cyclical.

Moves are influenced by the economy, demographics and also perception.

Also, the chart shows that when things get hard, economically, interstate movements slow down as we assumingly bunker down until things monetary wise improve.

Chart 1 also shows that the bounce back is often as steep the previous decline.

Table 1 tells me that Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania currently attract more interstate arrivals than departures, whilst in the other states and territories more people leave than arrive.

Table 2 outlines the top 25 local authority areas across Australia ranked by total net internal population growth during fiscal 2019.

Many of these areas either hug the coastline and/or in the outer conurbations of our four largest cities.

Only a couple are inland regional towns.

My comments

Once the current restrictions are lifted it is reasonable to accept that movements between states and territories will continue.

It is also rational to assume that – and if the household has the means – the want to live in a more desirable location has risen over recent weeks.

This might be more impulse or reaction rather than a sustainable trend, but such action could add further momentum to the recent escalation shown in chart 1.

It is also fair to accept that any continuance regarding interstate migration will follow the same established settlement patterns as shown in tables 1 and 2.

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